1850 - 1899
During the 19th Century the "parlor piano" was a primary medium of
entertainment. The technologies of player piano rolls and sheet music
sold by music publishers brought amateur pianists, guitarists and
vocalists in-home entertainment. Church music was also a magnet for
the faithful masses who enjoyed a weekly meeting singing hymns to the
accompaniment of a harmonium, piano or organ. Professional live
theater, musical theater, orchestra concerts, band concerts, touring
musical recitals and minstrel shows (and its later cousin Vaudeville)
were the mass mediums of secular entertainment. During the period
between 1877 and 1899 the basic technology was developed for
recording and playing back sound. At first, it was more a business
tool (for taking dictation) and a public curiousity, rather than a
mass distribution medium, since no commercial duplication system had
yet been invented. The original Edison system of cylinder recording
was the first. But Berliner's flat disk system held promise for mass
distribution. Both systems suffered from non-standard speeds and
acoustic recording and playback. The heavy styluses (phonograph and
gramophone needles) used for playback destroyed recordings after a
limited number of plays. Fidelity and surface noise were abominable,
but it was a start of the "talking machine" technology which was
originally thought to be useful for business in the way dictation
machines eventually were. The typewriter is invented and the most
long-lasting brands feature the QWERTY keyboard layout. This layout
slows down the typist and minimizes "sticking" -- where the
typebars would collide and stick together. (The same QWERTY layout
is used years later on computer keyboards because by now it is
universally used for typing Latin character sets.)
- 1851 - The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing
Telegraph Company is founded
in Rochester, New York, which will become Western Union -- the first electronic
message service (also offering the service of delivered Telegrams.)
- 1856 - The New York and Mississippi Valley Printing
Telegraph Company acquires several
competing companies and changes its name to Western Union; its service
Telegrams will continue until January 27, 2006 -- 150 years after the name change.
- 1861 - Western Union completes the first transcontinental telegraph
line -- providing fast,
coast-to-coast communications during the U.S. Civil War.
- 1866 - Christopher Latham Sholes of Danville, PA and his
colleagues, Carlos Glidden and
Soulé developed the first practical typewriter (and the
- 1873 - The Remington Arms company signs a deal to market
Sholes' Typewriter under their
later they merge with the Rand company to form
- 1876 - Alexander Graham Bell issued a patent for the Telephone
on March 7th. By the early
1800's many experimental uses were attempted for this invention
including what was
later called "Audio Theatre" -- plays and readings performed
over the telephone.
- 1877 - Edison invents the cylinder "phonograph" used to record
and playback sound. Originally
thought to be useful as a business machine for dictation (like the
dictaphone which would
come later.) Other uses: recordings of plays pre-dating
Radio Drama nearly 50 years.
- 1877 - Emile Berliner invents the first microphone and sells
the rights to Bell Telephone
- 1887 - Emile Berliner invents the flat record player
("gramophone") using acoustic horn
licenses technology to record companies who make "70-rpm"
- 1880 - Edison issued a patent for the electric incandescent
light bulb; wires part of New
with DC current to power street lights and lights in wealthy
- 1889 - Danish inventor Valdemar Poulson invents magnetic wire
- 1889 - Louis Glass invents the modern jukebox (coin-operated
phonograph) and installs
the "Palais Royal" saloon in San Francisco where it is an
- 1891 - The International copyright agreement is adopted
between major countries
- 1892 - Popular music becomes a serious business; Music
Publishers begin renting
office space on 28th street in New York City, near vaudeville theatres
area that would become known worldwide as "Tin Pan Alley."
- 1892 - The first "million-seller" song hit (sold via sheet
music) was "After The Ball"
by Charles K. Harris, who was both its composer and publisher.
- 1895 - The Lumiere Brothers use (piano) music with a motion
picture program (of
short subjects) for the first time at a Dec. 28th -screening at
the Grand Café in Paris
- 1896 - An orchestra is used with (silent) motion pictures for
the first time in April in London
- 1897 - Shellac gramophone disks developed by Emile Berliner -
speeds will vary on discs
by companies in different countries (80 rpm was used on some
- 1897 - British scientist Joseph John Thompson discovers the
electron particle within cathode rays.
- 1897 - Guglielmo Marconi is granted his first British patent
for wireless telegraphy.
1900 - 1924
In the first 25 years of the 20th century, mass duplication made
the record industry possible. The first "big three" labels were
Edison, RCA Victor, and Columbia, because they held the most patents
on the technologies. During this period, a shakeout revealed disks to
be the winner over cylinders. The Westrex system of electrical
recording (and other systems which followed) created a notable
advance over previous acoustical horn recordings. As radio
broadcasting began, the future for record players may have looked
somewhat grim. But as in the introduction of all new technologies, a
place was found for both the old and the new technologies in the
- 1902 - April 16 - "The Electric Theater" in Los Angeles is
opened by Thomas L. Tally: the
first Nickelodeon, a multimedia movie palace, that spawned
- 1900 - Eldredge Johnson perfects first system of mass
duplication of pre-recorded flat disks.
- 1906 -
RCA Victor's "Victrola" model record player is introduced. It has a variable turntable
speed control to accomodate the wide range of phonograph records produced at that
time; Victor's speeds ranged from 71 - 76 rpm. Columbia was producing discs as 80rpm.
Some British disks even rotated between 66rpm - 90rpm; Although U.S. phonograph
manufacturers agreed in 1928 to standardize on the rate of 78.26 rpm, it still took
decades for more standard speeds to be used worldwide.
- 1906 - British scientist John Ambrose Fleming develops the
first vacuum tube called a "Valve."
- 1907 - Lee de Forest is granted a patent on January 15 for the
first triode (three-element)
tube which he calls the "Audion". It was similar to Flemings diode
tube called a "Valve". But de Forest's third element (called a
Audion tube to amplify signals -- which made radio with voice and
- 1908 -
The first double-sided phonograph records are introduced by Columbia. Soon its
competitors follow suit; Prior to this time, all records had sound only on one side;
the back side was a blank (un-grooved) side.
- 1909 - Charles "Doc" Herrold and his assistant Ray Newby begin
and music broadcasts from San Jose, California using experimental
letters "FN" and "SJN". They transmit with a series of arcing
street lamps under liquid
- 1910 - Mary Pickford becomes the first American "Motion
Picture Star" via her silent films.
- 1912 - Charles "Doc" Herrold begins the first regular public
radio broadcasting of voice and
music from his "wireless telegraph college" in San Jose,
California; He calls it "The
Station" and transmits to audiences from San Jose to San
- 1912 - Disk recordings overtake cylinders in the popular
market. Columbia drops cylinders.
- 1913 - Edison Co. finally introduces a disk player, now that
the cylinder market is gone
- 1913 - Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky produce the first
"feature-length" film called
- 1914 - First transcontinental telephone call from New York to
San Francisco on July 29th.
- 1914 - Western Union introduces the first consumer charge card.
- 1914 - ASCAP formed to collect public performance royalties
for Composers, Authors and
Publishers; Composer Victor Herbert is its first president.
- 1916 - AT&T engineer C. G. Hensley got the idea for the
loudspeaker when he thought about
would happen if he made a telephone receiver really big.
- 1917 - The Orig. Dixieland Jass <sic> Band (ODJB) makes
the first "Jazz" recording.
- 1920 - Commercial AM Radio broadcasting begins on KDKA,
- 1921 - The first automatic "record changer" turntable is
patented for a stack of 78's.
- 1923 - Western Union introduces teletypewriters, joining
branches and individual companies.
- 1923 - Vladimir Zworykin applies for a patent on the cathode-ray tube
as a film or slide scanner.
- 1924 - Electrical records replace acoustic discs, via a process
developed by Western Electric.
- 1924 - Dutch-born Iwan Surrerier (a Pasadena, CA resident) re-designs
for home viewing movies (invented in 1917 -- called a "Moviola") into a
to make film editing easier, and sold his first one to Douglas Fairbanks.
1925 - 1949
Further advances in recording technology continued to improve the
quality of analog sound reproduction. Radio was now the prime
entertainment medium in the home, but it had not killed the record
industry. Instead, it was becoming a partner as radios containing
record players were selling more of both. And musicians benefited
temporarily by getting jobs in both recording and broadcasting
fields.When advances in recording technology allowed broadcasters to
began to combine the two (frequently playing records over the
radio)...it eliminated many jobs for radio musicians and the
musicians union fought a bitter losing battle. Toward the end of the
period, the appearance of the long-playing and extended-play
microgroove records signalled a format struggle that was to kill off
the 78rpm record within a few years. (Admittedly this history is
compiled from a U. S. perspective. Some parallel advances --
especially in the timeline of radio and TV broadcasting -- were
introduced in Europe at different times, which are not included
- 1925 -
Vitaphone introduces a sound system to synchronize music and sound effects with a
motion picture; It uses a 16-inch disc turntable that is connected by gears to the
projector mechanism. Operators have to continuously adjust the synchronization of
the grooves to the picture, which was not perfect. Later the speed and size of these
discs (16-inches running at approximately 33rpm) is utilized by some radio stations
stations and networks for "transcribing" radio programs for later re-broadcast at a
different time (or time zone.)
- 1926 -
Bell Laboratories develops a 33 1/3 rpm disk system to synchronize a music track for
the Warner Brothers film "Don Juan" containing music composed by William Axt. This
system is similar to the Vitaphone system introduced months earlier. Both competing
systems -- the "Vitaphone system" and the "Bell/Warner Bros. system", as well as the
use of transcription discs by radio stations/networks, inspire the introduction of
33rpm disks later -- a "long-playing" record intended for home use but eventually
with smaller "micro" grooves in the disc and a smaller size (10-inches.)
- 1926 - NBC -- the "National Broadcasting Company" begins as
the first radio network.
inauguration of the NBC Radio network was celebrated on November
15th with a
hour gala broadcast from the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria
was estimated half of the nation's 5 million radio sets were tuned
in for the broadcast;
two networks ("chains" of stations) were distinguished -- one was
Red Network" and the other the "NBC Blue Network" -- which was
sold in 1945
form the ABC Radio Network as the result of an anti-trust
settlement. At that point
the "Red network" remained, but in view of increasing post-war
dropped the "Red Network" from its name.
- 1926 - Scotsman John Logie Baird invents mechanical
television which he calls a "Televisor",
postcard-sized black and pink (not black and white) image with 30
scan lines running
flickering 12 1/2 frames per second.
- 1927 - "Movie-Tone News" talking theatrical newsreels debut May
25th in New York City.
- 1927 - The NBC Pacific Coast "Orange network" debuts April 5,
1927 with its flagship station
KGO in San Francisco.
- 1927 - CBS - the "Columbia Broadcasting System" begins radio
broadcasting on Sept. 18,
by the demise of the Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System, a
16 stations which originated out of WOR -- Newark, New Jersey; The
sold to the fledgling United Independent Broadcasters, Inc.; a
year later WABC in
York replaced WOR as the headquarters of the network; WABC was
WCBS to avoid confusion; CBS was known as "the Purple network"
opposed to NBC's "Red" and "Blue" networks) because of the
color coding on
- 1927 - On Sept. 7th -- Philo Farnsworth transmits the first "electric
television" picture (about
the size of a postage stamp, an inch and a half square) in
his San Francisco Laboratory.
- 1928 - In the United States, a young comedian named Milton Berle is the first person
seen on television, on an experimental broadcast; But it would be another
before his network TV show for Texaco would result in him becoming known
throughout the country as "Mr. Television."
- 1928 -
RCA convinces phonograph labels including its own Victor label as well as Columbia
and other manufacturers to standardize on 78.26 rpm as the speed of all phonograph
records. Previous disk recording speeds might vary anywhere up to 80rpm in the U.S.
and even as high as 90rpm in England.
- 1928 - Billboard magazine publishes its first music chart of
- 1928 - Scotsman John Logie Baird demonstrates his system of
its signal from England to the United States over the Atlantic
- 1929 - The Edison Co. ceases the manufacturing of sound
- 1929 - The West Coast "Don Lee" chain of radio stations joins
the CBS radio network; it
to later switch to Mutual in 1936.
- 1929 - Philo Farnsworth transmits the first TV picture of a living person -
his wife - on
Oct. 19, in his San Francisco laboratory; the picture is only about 3 1/2 inches square.
- 1930 - To improve TV pictures, German scientist Fritz Schroeter applies
for a patent on interlaced scanning.
- 1932 -
RCA laboratories work on a 33 1/3 rpm record system, but the system fails because the
material does not stand up to repeated plays. Sixteen more years will pass before a system
of "long-playing" records is developed that is good enough for widespread consumer use,
delayed in part by World War II materials shortages.
- 1932 - An experimental "binaural" phonograph system is created by Bell laboratories.
The two channels of sound were on separate grooves of a 78rpm vinyl record, requiring
a special stylus mechanism to play both channels simultaneously; The system, which
also required dual-channel amplifiers and additional speakers, was expensive and was
not marketed commercially. The first recording produced using this system was Scriabin's
Prometheus ("Poem of Fire"), conducted by Leopold Stokowski.
- 1932 - Vladimir Zworykin applies for a patent on a TV camera vacuum tube he
calls the "Iconoscope."
- 1932 - The Duke Ellington recording of "It Don't Mean a Thing
If It Ain't Got That Swing"
the "swing music" dance craze.
- 1933 -
January 30 - The first episode of "The Lone Ranger" radio series debuts on radio station
WXYZ in Detroit. Director Jim Jewell makes the decision NOT to use the studio Organ for
music, but to score the new series with recorded classical music as he has with several
earlier radio series he had directed; He makes the fateful choice of the Finale section
of the "William Tell" Overture from the Italian opera by Rossini as his Opening/Closing
theme music for this new "horse opera" -- a choice that will go down in radio/TV history.
- 1933 -
Western Union introduces the first "singing telegram" service.
- 1933 - Richard M. Hollingshead opened the first Drive-In Movie
Theater in Camden, NJ on
6...his company was called "Park-In Theaters, Inc." But the part
which the public
was that you "Drive-In", and so that name stuck.
- 1933 - Harry Lubke, a former associate of Philo Farnsworth, builds an
electronic television transmitter
for the Don Lee System in Hollywood -- which transmits one hour per day, six
days per week,
using 300 scan lines
at 20 frames per second, and claims to be the first TV station in the U.S.
- 1934 - The Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS) begins operation on September
15, formed by
eight stations that carried "The Lone Ranger" produced at WXYZ Detroit, plus stations
WOR New York and WLW Cincinnati. Mutual was a network "owned and operated"
by its affiliated stations, and was later purchased by WOR in New York. Then it
was absorbed into Westwood One - CNN in 1999.
- 1935 - The first "3-strip Technicolor" feature-length motion picture --
"Becky Sharp" is made
by simultaneously exposing three black & white camera negatives
through colored filters
in the camera, and then printing the results onto color positive stock
for the projector;
The film is co-produced by Rouben Mamoulian with Kenneth MacGowan's "Pioneer
Pictures Corporation", and is distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.
- 1935 - AEG/Telefunken exhibits the first magnetic tape
recorder in Germany.
- 1936 - Billboard magazine publishes its first chart of
- 1936 - The West Coast "Don Lee" chain of radio stations joins
the Mutual Network on
December 29 giving Mutual a coast-to-coast reach.
- 1937 - Christmas Night on the NBC Radio Network - The NBC Symphony
broadcast begins a 17-year run under the direction of Arturo Toscanini.
- 1938 - The CBS radio network debuts the "CBS World News Round-Up"
on March 13th
anchored by broadcast journalist Robert Trout.
- 1939 - National radio hit advertising jingle "Pepsi-Cola Hits
The Spot" is written by
Siday and Ginger Johnson, adapted from the tune of an
hunting song titled "John Peel". Johnson-Siday would write
jingles, and then Siday would form the first electronic jingle
"Identitones" using early analog synthesizers in the 1960s.
- 1939 - Electronic television demonstrated at the Chicago
Worlds Fair by RCA / NBC; the
of horizontal scan lines of early electronic TV systems varied
from 500 to
with DuMont systems having the highest resolution around
- 1940 - Regular FM Radio broadcasting begins in New York
- 1941 - The National Television Standards Committee adopts the
"NTSC standard" of
interlaced horizontal scan lines for all U.S. commercial
just under 30 frames per second consisting of two interlaced
- 1941 - ASCAP feuds with radio networks, which spawns the birth
of a rival U.S. Performance
collection/distribution organization -- Broadcast Music,
Incorporated -- BMI
- 1942 - James Petrillo's American Federation of Musicians (AF
of M) Union begins a
ban" from Aug., 1942 - Nov., 1944 to force record companies to pay
starts the decline of the big-band era in favor of vocal groups
and "crooner" vocalists
- 1945 - The American Broadcasting Network officially begins on
June 14 -- when it takes over
NBC Radio "Blue" Network. Announcements for awhile identified it
as the "Blue
of the American Broadcasting Company" or the "American Blue
- 1946 - Captured German magnetic tape recorders brought to the
United States which are copied
commercial use by A. M. Polikoff who founds AMPEX (he added "EX" for
- 1947 -
The FCC approves regularly-scheduled commercial television broadcasting, following
the wartime "interruption", on seven East Coast television stations.
- 1947 - Jan 22 -
The FCC approves the first commercial television station West of the Mississipi at a
subsidiary of Paramount Pictures - call letters are changed to KTLA - over channel 5
(formerly it was experimental TV station W6XYZ on channel 4, and later on channel 5.)
- 1947 - Dec 16 -
Bell Laboratories assembles the world's first transistor (a "point contact" type
so-called because two pointed metal contacts pressed the surface of a semiconductor.)
- 1948 - The first cable TV systems appear (called Community
Antenna TeleVision systems,
CATV) for carrying television signals by wire into areas that are
- 1948 - The commercial 33 1/3 LP (Long Playing) microgroove
(1-mil) disc is introduced by Dr.
Goldmark of Columbia Records; the first LP disk is released; it is
#4001 performed by classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
- 1948 - The Audio Engineering Society (The AES) is formed.
- 1949 - RCA Victor responds to the LP by developing large-hole
45 rpm phonograph records;
the effort failed to kill LPs, RCA's 45s eventually had the
of replacing 78s as the preferred media format for singles.
- 1949 - A local Los Angeles filmed TV sitcom which will air in
1950 on the full NBC network
called "Hank McCune Hall", about the life of a television variety
show host, introduces
the technique of "the laugh track" -- "canned laughter" --
edited in from other comedy
which unfortunately continues to plague sitcoms to this
1950 - 1974
This 25-year period saw radical change in sound and broadcast
technology, television, and magnetic tape -- revolutionizing these
fields more than anyone might have dared dream during the previous 75
years. Many advances in digital electronics were due to the impetus
of the "space race" -- which started with the Russian launch of
Sputnik and the response by President John F. Kennedy to challenge
NASA scientists to land a man on the moon within ten years. It was
this cold war "race" which indirectly fostered the development of
solid-state electronics to fit within space capsules, particularly
the development of the integrated circuit (the IC) to hold thousands
of transistors on a single "chip." Ultimately this led to Large-Scale
Integrated circuits (LSI's.) LSI's made possible micro-processors and
memory "chips." This U. S. government program made possible
commercial "spin-offs" including digital calculators and
micro-computers -- which are now called "Personal Computers (PC's)
and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's) and the many "embedded
systems" which are found in everything from microwave ovens to
automobiles. Another U. S. government program created by the Defense
Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) to connect university research labs
was called "The DARPANET." This led to another useful spinoff which
we now call "The Internet."
- 1950 - RCA finally gave in to market pressures and began
producing 33 1/3 microgroove (1-mil)
LPs to compete with Columbia and others.
- 1950 - Zenith introduces the "Lazy Boy" -- the first
television remote control (it had a cable.)
- 1950 - The NBC-TV series "Hank McCune Hall" used laugh tracks
from other shows on
soundtrack since it was filmed without a studio audience, and the
era of "canned
laughter" began; later that year a CBS-TV engineer named Charlie
Douglas made a
that could produce a "laugh track" using multiple tape loops,
which could be
like a "laugh organ", and began a company to supply this service
- 1951 - CBS television broadcast the first color TV program to
five cities on June 25th; the CBS
color system was not compatible with black & white signals as
was the RCA system
for NBC, which eventually was approved for use throughout the U.S.
- 1951 - The first ID jingle company to "sing-over" pre-recorded
backgrounds - PAMS, Inc. is
formed in Dallas, Texas by former radio studio musician Bill Meeks
on August 20, 1951.
- 1951 - The "CBS Eye" network logo debuts on September 10,
1951, designed by network art
director William Golden. An animated
version debuted on the air on October 17th.
- 1951 - The first episode of "I Love Lucy" aired on Monday, October 15th on the CBS
Television Network, filmed with three cameras simultaneously
in front of a
"live" audience on the General Service Studio soundstage.
- 1952 - Coast-to-coast network TV is a reality via telephone
company coaxial cables.
- 1952 -
The Recording Industry Association of America (the RIAA) is formed in order
to facilitate technical standardization of phonograph recording & reproduction;
It invited engineers from U.S. record companies to discuss proposed standards
including a pre-emphasis equalization curve that would optimize the performance
of playback systems in attenuating unwanted surface noise and rumble, etc.
- 1953 -
RCA proposes to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) that it
adopt RCA's "New Orthophonic" recording characteristic as its standard to define
equalization crossover points and rolloff characteristics for records. But the
RIAA doesn't officially endorse this standard for 3 more years (1956), and it
would take four more years (until 1957) for the last U.S. manufacturer to change
their "equalization" curves to the RIAA standard. Up until that point records
were made with many different equalization curves -- the most well-known being
AES, NAB, and FFRR. It took even longer for overseas record companies to change,
some of whom used additional equalization curves -- such as BBC, EMI, and CCIR
as late as the 1970's on their phonograph recordings.
- 1953 - The first pre-recorded reel-to-reel tape (at 7 1/2 ips)
is offered for sale.
- 1953 - The First public RCA "compatible-color" TV broadcast
was an episode of NBC's
"Kukla, Fran and Ollie" on August 30th; The first regularly
in RCA compatible color was on Nov. 22nd (NBC's "Colgate Comedy
- 1954 - The First "transistor radio" went on sale in the U.S.
named The Regency TR-1
(it had 4 transistors and cost $49.99.)
- 1954 - Swanson employee Gerry Thomas invents the frozen "T. V. Dinner"
to get rid of extra
turkey. He received a $1000 bonus from the company and a pay increase to
$300 per month.
At first the company received letters from irate husbands who wanted their
wives to continue
"cooking from scratch" like their mothers. But soon the idea was widely
accepted, and the
segmented aluminum dinner compartments (inspired by airline food containers) fit
on "T. V. Trays" -- another '50's innovation.
- 1954 - On March 25, the first color television sets rolled out
of the RCA Victor factory
Bloomington, Indiana; (The model CT-100 had a 12-inch screen, and
price of $1000. A total of 5,000 model CT-100 sets were
- 1955 - Larger 12" LP's overtake 10" LP's as the preferred size
for long-playing records.
- 1955 - NBC debuts a weekend radio network format called MONITOR on
Sunday, June 12th,
a creation of Pat Weaver, who also created NBC's Today and Tonight Shows.
- 1956 - Ampex Co. of Redwood City, CA demonstrates the first
videotape system in February
- 1956 - The "NBC Peacock" logo (symbol of compatible "Living
Color") debuts in July,
by Fred Knapp and the NBC graphics department under John J.
- 1957 - Compatible Stereo disks and record players are offered
for sale (33 1/3 and 45rpm.)
- 1960 - Sony introduces the first "solid-state" TV set, using
transistors instead of vacuum tubes.
- 1961 - FM Stereo radio broadcasting begins and FM slowly
starts to gain respect.
- 1962 - Multitrack analog tape recording starts being used in
- 1963 - Compact stereo tape cassettes and players are developed
- 1963 - Ivan Sutherland does his M.I.T. Doctoral Thesis on
Interactive Computer Graphics
creating a "Sketchpad" program using an interactive light pen
instead of a mouse;
leads to the first practical uses of interactive graphics on
- 1963 - Douglas C. Engelbart demonstrates the first computer
mouse (made of wood.)
- 1964 - The 8-track stereo tape cartridge is developed for
automobile use by Lear
- 1964 - A T & T introduces the PicturePhone at the Worlds'
Fair, but it doesn't catch on
- 1966 - The "Dolby-A" professional noise reduction system is used in
some recording studios
- 1968 -
The "Dolby-B" noise reduction system is introduced for consumer reel-to-reel and
cassette tape recorders.
- 1969 - The FCC requires cable TV systems with more than 3500
subscribers to include
- 1969 - At AT&T Bell Labs, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie
begin developing the UNIX
operating system, and the "B" (1969) and "C" (1972) computer
- 1969 - The first Microprocessor (computer on a chip) is
introduced by Intel -- the 4004
- 1969 - The Internet begins as a link between four university
labs, called ARPANET
- 1971 -
The first ARPANET (later Internet) EMail program called "SNDMSG" -- short for
"Send Message" -- was created by Ray Tomlinson working at BBN Technologies
(Called BBN because it was founded by Bolt, Beranek and Newman.)
- 1971 -
The first consumer effort in surround sound -- 4-channel "Quadraphonic" (nicknamed
"Quad") LP records were released on various record labels: Project 3 and Ovation
called it "E-V Stereo-4", while Vanguard and Reprise called it "Dynaquad".
Unfortunately, the lack of standardization among manufacturers of various LP's,
8-track, cassettes and reel-to-reel tape formats caused consumer confusion and
doomed the effort.
- 1971 - Gloria Gaynor records "Never Can Say Goodbye" -- the
first disco record on US radio
- 1972 - Atari of Santa Clara, CA develops "Pong" -- the first
electronic computer arcade game.
- 1972 - New Mexico calculator company MIPS introduces the first
"micro-computer", the Altair,
is sold as a kit you put together. (Later MIPS founder returns to
as a local physician.)
- 1972 - Bill Gates drops out of Harvard, moves to New Mexico to
develop software for the
MIPS Altair "micro-computer" with Paul Allen under the name
- 1973 - Martin Cooper of Motorola conceived the first cellular
phone system, and led the
process of bringing it to market.
- 1974 - The first all solid-state video cameras are introduced
using Bell Labs "CCD"
device) instead of an Image Orthicon or Plumbicon camera tube
1975 - 1999
The last 25 years of the 20th Century saw the emergence of the
"digital revolution" in which digital technology affected most of our
lives directly or indirectly. This revolution changed the way all
mediums of sound and video are recorded and played back. It has all
but wiped out the sales of analog record and tape formats of the
past. Ahead are several questions: How will the controversy over
internet file swapping be resolved? What new challenges and problems
will digital copy protection schemes create? How soon will HDTV
(High-Definition Television) make analog TV broadcasting
- 1975 - NBC's weekend radio format MONITOR is cancelled after
nearly 20 years --
It's final broadcast airs on Sunday, January 26th.
- 1975 -
A four-channel noise reduction system for optical sound tracks on 35mm film is
introduced by Dolby labs (originally called "Dolby Stereo".)
- 1976 - Garrett Brown invents the gyroscopic Steadicam, a
motion picture camera stabilizer
mount, worn by the cameraman himself, first used in the movie "Rocky."
- 1979 - The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight", is the first
hip-hop record to reach Top 40 radio.
- 1981 - The MTV Music TV Cable Network debuts on the air at
Midnight, August 1st.
- 1981 - The first IBM-brand "PC" (for "Personal Computer") is
released on August 12th --
"Personal Computer" becomes the popular name of what used to be called a
computer" system; It uses the "DOS" -- Disk Operating System -- provided by
enterprenour Bill Gates who bought the rights to it from a local company in Seattle
for a pittance, and resold it under his company's name -- "Microsoft"
- 1982 - The digital Compact Disc (CD) is introduced by a
- 1982 - The first CD released (in Japan) is Billy Joel's "52nd
Street" (October, 1982.)
- 1983 - The first CD titles are released in the US in June (12
CBS, 15 Telarc, 30 Denon.)
- 1983 - In November, U.S. computing student Fred Cohen created
the very first computer
-- as a research project.
- 1984 - The (128K) Apple Macintosh personal computer debuts
with a Graphical User Interface
as "the computer for the rest of us", expected sales of 50,000 the
$2495, the industry (and Apple) is surprised when 75,000 orders
in part to a novel TV ad aired during the Football Superbowl
- 1984 - NBC broadcasts the first television programs with
- 1985 - Adoption of the CD starts taking a huge bite out of LP
sales, causing them to drop 25%.
- 1986 - The Recording Industry Association of America (the
RIAA) announces on June 19 that
CDs have overtaken LP sales in the U.S.
- 1988 - The CD overtakes LP sales worldwide; CD-ROMs are
developed as a computer medium
to store around 750 MegaBytes per disc.
- 1988 - CEDAR Audio Ltd. of Cambridge, England develops a Noise
Reduction system to fix
pops and crackle from old records re-mastered for release on CD's.
acronym for Computer Enhanced Digital Audio Restoration. Other
U.S. soon followed. One of them -- Sonic Solutions -- began in San
a spin-off of a project called "Edit-Droid" from George Lucas'
Solutions sells a system of professional noise reduction options
- 1990 - Phillips introduces a digital audio tape recorder (DAT)
using a digital casette.
- 1990 -
Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher working at the CERN
atomic laboratory in Switzerland, finishes programming the first practical
Web Browser, which comes to be known as "Nexus", incorporating both FTP (file
transfer protocol) and his own HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), simplifying
interactions between client and server machines, making a more seamless display
of text and graphics over the Internet; the browser was first released on Feb 26,
1991 to a group of physicists, and it became such a popular phenomena, that Tim
Berners-Lee (who could have received royalties) let the browser go into Public
Domain in 1993 -- so as to further promote the growth of the World-Wide Web.
- 1991 - The Moving Picture Experts Group MPEG-1 Audio Layer III
(MP3) compressed audio
file format becomes an international standard, and eventually the
most popular format
for distributing digital audio over the Internet.
- 1991 - The "SoundScan" barcode tracking system of reporting
music recording sales begins
to bring accurate sales figures to record charts; Country music is
now a bigger segment.
- 1994 - Personal computers outsell TV sets for the first time
in the United States.
- 1994 - The Internet starts to "take off" as a major computing
platform due to the World Wide
being "discovered" for a myriad of commercial and social uses;
junk EMail begins :-(
- 1995 - The online auction community eBay starts out as "AuctionWeb.com", programmed
General Magic engineer Pierre Omidyar who started it as a hobby project.
on the Web in September 1995, and 10 years later in September, 2005
will boast 157 million registered users worldwide, 75 million in the U.S.
- 1996 - The DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) increases capacity of
digital storage of audio and video
a CD (Compact Disc) medium; can store on to 4.7 GigaBytes per
disks are possible though rare...
- 1997 - The world falls in love with everything Internet, and
there is talk of a "New Economy"
the old rules don't apply. But by 2001, the speculative bubble bursts, leaving
many computer engineers jobless; and fueling the trend toward hi-tech outsourcing.
- 1998 - The Internet Web site "ClassicThemes.com" debuts on January 26th, 1998; Founded
former Radio/TV composer/producer and Macromedia software engineer David Shields,
who wanted to consolidate
his research into classic television themes and old-time radio (OTR)
themes, that he had been
researching, collecting and publishing since 1960; Over the
about the better composer-arrangers of Light (Easy Listening) music,
and other resources are added;
and the site becomes a primary source for the music industry.
- 1998 - First regular transmissions of HDTV (High-Definition
Television) begin in major cities
- 1999 - Broadband Internet service providers begin to be
offered to consumers faster Web page
and smoother and faster streaming media.
- 1999 - Recordable CD-R digital audio disc technology becomes part
of personal computer systems.
- 1999 - Rival Audio DVD formats DVD-A and SACD (Super-Audio CD)
introduced which offer
superior sound than conventional CDs; DVD-A includes other media
- 1999 - The Mutual Broadcasting System is a victim of consolidation --
absorbed into Westwood
One-CNN Radio on April 18, ending 65 years as an independent radio network.
The first few years of the 21st Century has seen the Internet
become "a global computing
platform" for communication, information exchange and entertainment
(not to mention worlwide mischief.) The U.S. and some European
countries become increasingly dependent upon Internet communication,
data and economic transfers, as well as many new opportunities for
global trade. But some worry this is creating
unseen vulnerabilities to these economies as well as to personal financial
and private information -- all of which will need to be addressed in the
not-too-distant future. Here is what has
happened so far, and is scheduled to happen....
- 2000 - Internet music-swapping site "Napster" is created, and
alarms the recording industry
which mounts a massive campaign to shut it down despite First
- 2000 - The first year recording sales actually declined --
record industry blames online music
as the cause and tried to advance digital copy protection
- 2000 - Consumer DVD recorders were introduced at the Comdex
in Las Vegas priced at $1000, but by the 2001 show came down to
these video recorders can hold up to 4.7 gigabytes of video and
- 2000 - Digital electronic books (E-Books) become a small part
of the publishing industry, and
competing companies attempt to introduce the standards for
- 2000 - March 10 -- the so-called "Internet Bubble" burst
leading to a recession/shakeout
inflated technology industry, as reality started to replace "irrational
- 2001 - Napster is forced to "filter out" content due to RIAA
lawsuit; hints at fees to come
other free peer-to-peer software including Gnutella are developed
to take Napster's place
- 2001 - Intel announces a breakthrough in the speed of computer
processing chips that will make
several THOUSAND times faster; first systems expected to be sold
- 2001 - DVD video disk players outsell VHS video cassette
recorder/players for the first time.
- 2001 - Music DVD's are introduced which can contain 7 - 10
times the amount of music, or
multimedia content to augment the usual sound recordings.
- 2001 - The TV screen gets more junked up by "crawls" --
banners at the bottom of the screen,
and other distracting divisions of the screen in imitation of
- 2001 - Reminiscent of VHS/Betamax, an alternate standard for
consumer DVD writable disks
introduced to thwart piracy called DVD+RW (as opposed to original
is among the chief proponents of DVD+RW; Apple remains with
- 2001 - October 23 - Apple Computer introduces the iPod portable music player for
mp3 files, and it is a big hit, helping re-establish Apple's innovative
improve their bottom line.
- 2002 - The F.C.C. (U.S. Federal Communications Commision)
requires all new U.S.
TV sets to include digital receivers in order to help the transition
by February 17, 2009.
- 2002 - October 10 - The F.C.C. approves a digital radio
broadcast standard developed by
Digital Corp., a company backed by broadcasters including ABC and
- 2003 - Apple Computer introduces a downloadable music service via
its iTunes music application,
which proved that people would pay 99-cents-per-tune to download
music legally in the
wake of peer-to-peer free (but illegal) file swapping
- 2005 - Retailers Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Circuit City announce they
will stop selling
VHS Video Cassette tapes since DVD's are now the medium of choice for
- 2005 - December 20 -- the U.S. Congress agreed that Standard NTSC analog TV
cease in favor of all digital TV transmission nation-wide
on February 17, 2009
- 2006 - January 27 - Western Union stopped delivering telegrams as of
this date --
ending a service in the United States that it began in 1851; Their primary
business is still money transfers.
- 2006 - February 22 - Apple Computer's online music store integrated
into its iTunes software
and iPod hardware, sold it's one-billionth song on this date, proving
that digital music
can be accepted by the public when distributed across a network in a
virtual form, as
opposed to inscribed only in discrete tangible media.